A native of South West Asia and from the Amaranthaceae family, what we commonly recognise as Spinach is botanically classified as Spinacia oleracea. Spinach is a native of South Western Asia and is now cultivated around the world.

Spinach is an annual plant but can be treated as a Biennial in perfect growing conditions.

Historically, Spinach is believed to have started life in what is now Iran. It was traded with India and China, though it was likely traded between India and China in lineage. Spinach was introduced to The Mediterranean around 800AD and became a popular food by around 1200AD

Spinach made an appearance in France in around the middle of the 14th Century and in England around the same time.

The Nutritional benefits of spinach have been well documented throughout history. The Popeye cartoon series popularised spinach with kids. Popeye depicted the nutritious value of spinach by way of the super strength he gained when consuming it.

Spinach contains a wide spectrum of nutrient value. It has a rich source of carbohydrates with only a small amount of actual sugars. It is rich in dietary fibre and low in fat. The consumption of spinach will assist in maintaining protein levels when eaten with other high protein foods. Spinach is said to have more protein content than Meat. Spinach contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Spinach is super rich in Vitamin K. Spinach is a good source of Iron and Calcium. The full nutrient value is maintained when spinach is consumed raw or when included in soups, stews or casseroles.

Spinach can be canned or frozen to preserve freshness. Spinach loses a lot of nutrient value within days of picking so to consume fresh it should be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

- Young Spinach leaves can be used in salads with beet leaves, rocket and young lettuce leaves. Pre-packaged salad mixes can be purchased from the supermarket, which contain young spinach leaves.
- Spinach, Ricotta cheese and finely chopped Onion can be included in pastry pockets as savouries or larger family size pies and rolls.
- Spinach is ideal used in Stir-fries. It is considered cooked when the leaves have wilted and appear shiny or oily.

Spinach is good for bone health and may help reduce the likelihood of developing Osteoporosis. Spinach is excellent for maintaining normal bowel function and assisting in cleansing the digestive tract. Spinach is an ideal vegetable for maintaining overall healthy bodily functions. Spinach can assist in maintaining healthy blood flow and reduced cholesterol levels with an associated benefit to overall heart health.

Author's Bio: 

Eric J. Smith is an Experienced Horticulturalist with a keen interest in Organic Gardening. Eric's interest in Organics also shows in his interest in Organic Nutrition and Organic Skincare. More information can be found on these by visiting his websites http://www.buy-organic-products.com or http://www.lifestyle-health-services.com. Subscribe to Eric's FREE Health and Organic Newsletters via these websites.